ECONOMY

Intracom rejects OTE merger talk

Intracom, Greece’s leading telecom equipment manufacturer, yesterday denied a flurry of recent speculation over a possible merger with OTE Telecom, one of its main clients. Reports in the financial press, according to which a merger between OTE and Intracom is on the way through the mediation of a large foreign strategic investor, do not correspond to reality, Intracom responded in a statement. Various scenarios on a possible partnership between the two companies, both blue chips listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), have proliferated in the press in recent days. Intracom assures the investing public once again that whenever there is a development whose publication is reasonably expected to influence its share price, it will ensure its publication in a responsible manner, said the Intracom statement. The ASE asked the two companies on Tuesday to clarify the picture as to whether they are planning a merger, share swap or other form of alliance. Telecom stocks have been the locomotive of the bourse in the last few days, showing buoyancy while investors seem to anticipate developments. OTE sources have been referring inquirers to the utility’s basic shareholder, the government, which holds 42 percent of share capital for possible developments, noting that the implementation of any such scenarios would require political approval. Government sources, however, described the speculation as baseless. ASE Chairman Panayiotis Alexakis yesterday expressed the view that telecom stocks were currently riding high almost exclusively on the wave of rumors and speculation about an OTE-Intracom marriage. Banking sources expressed varying views. A senior bank group official said the collaboration was a given and developments were certain soon. Another, however, described the whole story as a bubble, noting that nowhere in the world had a manufacturing supplier merged with a telecoms operator. The overall feeling, nevertheless, is that something big is in the works and that the current speculation is possibly a kind of orchestrated poll for the recording of possible reactions.